As some of you will know, Ricco Rodriguez recently competed in the Shark Fights 17 event. He defeated Doug Williams (late replacement for Karl Knothe) by Rear-Naked Choke mid-way through the first round.
It's hard to decide where this puts Rodriguez in the grand scheme of things. He has stated in the past that he'd like to get back to the UFC and possibly fight as a Light-Heavyweight. His impressive 12 fight win streak is certainly going to help, but a number of other things have to be considered.
The remainder of this post looks at all the factors.
The streak and post-UFC
The 12 fight win streak is definitely worth noting and it's also the best of his career (his previous best was 11 - from 23rd November, 1999 to 27th September, 2002). This current streak spans over roughly two years.
The opponents in this current streak have a combined record of 337-121-16, but if you don't include the crazy record of Travis Fulton, it's 91-73-6. The substantial difference between wins and losses gives you some idea of the competition.
Desipte the above (whether you include Fulton or not), when you look at the record in more detail, it becomes less respectable. Almost half (5) of the opponents have lost more fights than they have won (a common definition of a 'can'). Also, only two of those fighters have been part of the UFC at some point in their careers (Travis Fulton and James McSweeney). In both of those cases, they didn't exactly prove themselves to be world class.
As for the types of wins, there were:
- 4 submissions
- 4 decisions
- 3 TKOs
- 1 KO (strangely, against Fulton, who has proven difficult to knock out. You would have thought that he attempt a submission - something that Fulton has succumbed to on numerous occasions).
So, this shows that he hasn't really added knockout power to his list of abilities, but he can still dominate certain fighters.
Now let us compare this streak to the previous one. They can't possibly be thought of as the same quality as the first one included victories over fighters such as Randy Couture, Andrei Arlovski, Jeff Monson and Paul Buentello. Those wins were also (mostly) in PRIDE and the UFC. So, the current streak is based in minor organisations and against a much lower quality of competition that is unlikely to ever become UFC-standard.
There are some reasons to bring him back. One of them being that he left the UFC with a good record of 5-2. He's also an ex-champion. The winning streak and his well-known personal problems could be used as part of the hyping up of fights too (Diego Nunes is another example. The UFC used his background and WEC success in the build up to the fight with Kenny Florian). There's also the obvious name recognition that he has amongst the hardcore fans and some of the casual viewers.
However, there's also a whole host of problems. His UFC success is from several years ago. The casual fans might not know him for his e.g. heavyweight title win. He also couldn't be thrown in against top quality opponents like Junior Dos Santos or Cain Velasquez as it would be a massive step up. He could end up being a gatekeeper for a while - not great for an ex-champion. The same could be said if he was made part of the Strikeforce roster.
He's expressed a desire to compete as a Light Heavyweight, but the same problems arise with the level of competition. He also has no experience at 205lb and has had serious issues with weight cutting.
Summary & Conclusion
To get back in the UFC as a Heavyweight, he'd have to win against a few better quality opponents. If he still wants to be a Light Heavyweight, he'd have to consistently prove that he has no problems with the weight cut and he'd also have to gain some good-quality experience in that division.
There's always a possibility that he could return to the UFC and finish his career there, but it won't be for some time.
So, what do you think?